Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Take my words to heart: Proverbs 4 Speaks To Today

Proverbs 4  Speaks To Today

Take my words to heart


Proverbs 4:4-6(NLT) 

My father taught me,“Take my words to heart.

Follow my commands, and you will live
Get wisdom; develop good judgment.

Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.

Don’t turn your back on wisdom,

 for she will protect you.

Love her, and she will guard you.



Here is wisdom known within the secular world, Christianity and most religions. It is a key to the future or a lack of it.

It can be found in God's recorded words from the beginning down to all faithful teaching of His scriptures today.

Though the lessons taught today 
are often recklessly chosen resulting in the original 
wisdom in this proverb becoming lost 
by our human interpretations
and line selections.  

Deuteronomy 4:10 NLT -  Never forget the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai, where he told me, ‘Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them. Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will teach their children to fear me also.’

Deuteronomy 11:19 NLT - Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up

Psalm 34:11 NLT - Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord

Psalm 78:5-6 NLT - For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children.

Isaiah 54:13 NLT - I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.

I have pastored or befriended Christian fathers who never taught their children anything about faith and biblical wisdom. Even those who were good at interacting with their children seldom taught the wisdom of God though some taught the "do's and don'ts" that  we saw last week bring destruction rather than wisdom.

I had one Christian father, a leader in his church, who told me that he knew God directed fathers to teach the children but he had delegated that responsibility to his wife. He could not see that such an arrangement placed himself above God and God's clear instructions. I doubt he ever saw the religious teaching he delegated as a matter of laying aside God's wisdom and abdicating the needed father role in a believer's home.

Women, especially mothers, indeed are also to teach their children in ways that lead to understanding and wisdom. That does not happen when teaching stops at the do and don't performance level of religiosity. And this critical role of the mother (even stepmother) does not replace the father' role.

This becomes clear when watching children as they start to choose their own religious ways or lack of them. For example, the majority of children who have a father in the home that does not gather with believers to worship, most often demonstrated by not attending church, produce children who when older do not gather with believers or attend church. The teaching of the father by example in a majority of cases becomes the wisdom or foolishness the children embrace.

However, the opposite is less often true. Children living in a home with a bitter mother but an engaged Christian father most often follow the wisdom of the father not the example of the mother. Of course in the individual cases, nothing is this simple except that children who are taught faith and religion that stops at the do and do not stage fall backward, are injured (most often in the home itself), and too often destroyed.

I have seen the opposite as well. Men and women who have set despicable examples, turn to God and seek his wisdom (not his rules only) then turn to teach their children - young or adult and not some legalism but instructions that lead to the understanding that begets wisdom - and thereby save two or three generations who follow their example in teaching children.

The how of teaching, the correct goal of teaching -which is understanding not blind obedience- is the key. That is the key the writer of this Proverb and the God he sought to follow teach in this passage.

May we stop twisting it.


Sean Teaches His Son Peace

First, by taking God Our Father's words to heart, following his commands, learning wisdom, developing good judgment, then remembering the Father's words (something Solomon failed to do in his old age), keeping them in sight, and never turning our backs on wisdom.

We must stop taking this proverb as a carte blanc or an excuse to teach from our human culture or desires. We must stop thinking we know what is best. Stop teaching a do and do not relationship to religion and God.

I have known so many, many Christian parents who expected their children to grow into blind obedience of their (the parent's) words right up to and through the teen and young adult years when by creation children must make their own choices based on their own understandings.

Having not taught the understanding behind the "rules" of the faith, they had nothing to embrace and no wisdom with which to face the transition from childhood to maturity. Some have never matured - neither mentally, socially, nor in faith.

Second, we must teach words that target the heart not the head and mind. We must teach in a way the calls children to understanding, that draws a child's heart, that provides them the opportunity to develop good judgment, not just physical obedience.    

We must teach and model wisdom. This is difficult in our society where we struggle to define wisdom let alone find many examples of it. Our peer-driven society is so opposite to a society seeking to increase in wisdom. The displacing of philosophy as a needed subject demonstrates how far we have come to abandoned wisdom - even human wisdom.

Third, we must stop making the foolishness of youth the idol that represents the best of a person's life. We must stop seeing living in the continuing ways of the foolishness of youth as the greatest fulfillment an individual can have.

Yes, I have heard that we need to follow the youth taught and preached even in the churches, especially in the conservative churches. 

Youth's energy we need. Their fresh approaches can help us maintain a balance and escape legalism and dead works. Their ability to pursue knowledge and enjoy learning can remind us that true wisdom dictates the continued accumulation of knowledge and of delighting in learning versus believing we have come to know all that is necessary. The latter is a particular sin of the churches.  

But we must not follow youth's foolishness for wisdom never comes as a fruit of being young. It must be sought and learned. It grows from experience, which youth has not yet accumulated, and from the development of good judgment the lack of which is the Achilles heel, the attribute which youth every generation does not yet have. Every generation of youth demonstrates this lack. 

When will we make the development of independent good judgment and wisdom the heart of our teaching? When we do, our youth will be prepared to weather the transition to sexual maturity, adult responsibility, and spiritual strength. 

Unfortunately, we have concentrated on do and do not teachings, which produces the exact opposite and on head knowledge without understanding. We have demonstrated the lack of good judgment. We have not sought nor found wisdom. We have turned our backs on wisdom's very existence. And so we and our children no longer are protected. Wisdom is not longer loved or regarded. And thus, we are unguarded in the Christian way.

May God help us! 

"Get wisdom; develop good judgment.

Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.

Don’t turn your back on wisdom,

 for she will protect you.

Love her, and she will guard you."

Photo Credits:
Beauty Among Thorns by Wayne Anson, inquire about rights
Sean Teaches His Son Peace by Justin Davis, some rights reserved @

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